Roundup of Asian travel news

Interconti’s 4,500 room deal in China dominates the Asian news this week. Le Meridien, Novotel, Marriot are opening new hotels, with new destinations for Etihad and SIA.LE MERIDIEN CONTINUES EXPANSION IN ASIA PACIFIC WITH NEW HOTEL IN PATTAYA

Starwood Hotels & Resorts’ global hotel brand Le Meridien Hotels & Resorts is boosting its Asia Pacific presence with the Le Meridien Pattaya Resort, Thailand, slated to open in January 2009. It will accomodate 250 rooms, 11,000 square feet of meeting space, three food and beverage outlets, an outdoor swimming pool and a spa. The development is located one and a half hours drive from Bangkok and less than an hour’s drive from the Thai capital’s new International Airport.

NOVOTEL CITYGATE TO OPEN IN HONG KONG

The city’s Tourism Board has announced the opening of a new hotel, the Novotel Citygate.

The Novotel Citygate Hong Kong, sheduled to open in April, is located in the Tung Chung business centre, close to the airport and less than half an hour from the city centre.

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The business hotel, comprising 440 rooms and suites, and four executive “Biz” floors, is also near AsiaWorld-Expo, Hong Kong’s newest exhibition and conference centre.

ACCOR TO MANAGE NEW SOFITEL IN MACAU

Accor will manage the Sofitel MacauPonte16, scheduled to open towards the end of 2007.

The hotel will house 440-rooms, two restaurants and two bars, swimming pool, a spa and wellness centre, business centre, a 700 square metre multi-function conference room and additional meeting rooms.

It will also contain a Sofitel Club Lounge and Sofitel Club Executive floors.

CATHAY PACIFIC POSTPONES LAUNCH OF SERVICE TO MOSCOW, MANCHESTER

Hong Kong-based carrier Cathay Pacific has postponed the launch of a three-times-per-week service to the Russian capital Moscow, and then on to the British city of Manchester, envisaged as a codeshare service with partner Aeroflot.

The airline announced in December last year that flights would start on March 27th, pending final government approval. Cathay Pacific is still waiting upon regulatory formalities for Manchester and hopes to begin the service later in 2006.

Passengers who have made a confirmed booking to Manchester will be given an alternative routing through London, while those who have booked to Moscow will be able to travel on Cathay’s codeshare service operated by Aeroflot.

INTERCONTINENTAL HOTELS GROUP SIGNS 4,500 ROOMS IN CHINA DEAL

InterContinental Hotels Group has inked an agreement with Chengdu International Exhibition & Convention Group to manage six hotels in Chengdu and Jiuzhaigou in the Chinese province of Sichuan.

The six hotels include two InterContinental properties, three Holiday Inn properties and one Express by Holiday Inn, representing over 4,500 rooms.

The scheduled openings include the InterContinental Century City Chengdu, slated to open in 2007, two Holiday Inn properties scheduled to open in 2006, the InterContinental Resort Jiuzhai Paradise, slated to open in 2006, the Holiday Inn Jiuzhai Jarpo, expected to open in 2006, and the Express by Holiday Inn Jiuzhai Jarpo, scheduled to open in 2007.

SHANGRI-LA HOTEL, DUBAI LAUNCHES DINING EXPERIENCE FOR SINGLE TRAVELLERS

The Shangri-La Hotel, Dubai has launched Interactions - a new dinner-time experience targeted at individual business travellers seeking conversation and company over dinner.

The dinners are only available to in-house guests, both male and female, offering flexibility for guests to join either the entire meal or part of it, choosing from a set menu and drinks list.

The Interactions dining experience is priced at AED150 (US$41) per person (for a 3 course set menu and a glass of selected wine) and is available Saturday to Thursday nights at 8 p.m.

MARRIOTT INTERNATIONAL OPENS COURTYARD BY MARRIOTT CHENNAI IN INDIA

Marriott International, Inc. has opened the 238 room Courtyard hotel in India’s Chennai. Located near the Chennai Trade Centre, room rates range from US$150-$225, plus tax. It includes a full-service business centre, and seven rooms offering almost 300 metres of meeting space.

SYDNEY CONVENTION AND EXHIBITION CENTRE LAUNCHES NEW BUILDING AND VENUE NAMES

Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre has launched new building and venue names, with over 150 LCD display screens now located throughout the Centre, along with new fixed signage.

Two of the Centre’s key buildings, formerly known as Convention Centre North and Convention Centre South, have been renamed Convention Centre Bayside and Convention Centre Parkside.

All rooms within the buildings have also been renamed to indicate their “Bayside” or “Parkside” location, as well as the level they are on. Exhibition Hall numbers remain the same.

EMIRATES OPENS TWO PREMIUM LOUNGES IN AUSTRALIA

Emirates has opened First and Business Class Lounges at Sydney’s Kingsford-Smith International Airport and at Perth Airport.

Both lounges are modelled on Emirates’ First and Business Class Lounges in Dubai.

The Emirates Lounge in Sydney is 880 square metres in size and caters for 160 guests, while the Emirates Lounge at Perth Airport is 585 square metres in size and caters for 106 guests. The facilities are available to Emirates First and Business Class passengers and Gold members of Skywards, the frequent flyer program for Emirates and SriLankan Airlines.

BANGKOK AIRWAYS LAUNCHES PROMOTION WITH FAH THAI HOLIDAYS

Bangkok Airways and Fah Thai Holidays have launched a series of promotions to various destinations on the airline’s network.

These include a Yangon package from 21,200 Baht, a Phuket package from 8,300 Baht (US$211), a Koh Chang package from 7,100 Baht and a package to Siem Reap from 19,100 Baht.

AIR ARABIA LAUNCHES SPECIAL FARES PROMOTION

SHARJAH - Sharjah-based budget airline Air Arabia is offering special fares to its destinations until the end of March 2006. Fares begin from AED 80 to Aqaba; AED 99 to Tehran; AED 120 to Muscat; AED 130 to Dammam; AED 149 to Assiut, Beirut, Kuwait, Luxor, Riyadh, Sana’a and Sharm El Sheikh; AED 170 to Bahrain; AED 199 to Aleppo, Alexandria, Colombo, Damascus, Khartoum and Nagpur; AED 210 to Doha; AED 250 to Amman; AED 300 to Mumbai and AED 399 to Jeddah.

ETIHAD AIRWAYS LAUNCHES FLIGHTS BETWEEN ABU DHABI AND MANILA

Abu Dhabi-based carrier Etihad Airways has launched a service to the Philippine destination of Manila. It operates on Mondays, Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

MASTERINDEX OF TRAVEL REPORT ON BUSINESS TRAVEL IN ASIA-PACIFIC

MasterCard International has announced the results of its MasterIndex of Travel report, with business travelers in Japan (63 per cent), Vietnam (61 per cent), New Zealand (44 per cent), Thailand (34 per cent), China (32 per cent), Taiwan (31 per cent) and Indonesia (30 per cent) needing to travel more compared to the previous period. Singapore Airlines (17 per cent) continues to be the most preferred airline for business travelers, with Thai Airways (10 per cent) and Air China (9 per cent) the next most preferred carriers.

Asia-Pacific business travelers opt for international 4-star hotels (37 per cent) followed by 3-star hotels (22 per cent) and international 5-star or higher end hotels (18 per cent).

SINGAPORE AIRLINES EXPANDS NETWORK WITH NEW DESTINATIONS

Singapore Airlines is opening a new Singapore-Moscow service, via Dubai, and a Singapore-Abu Dhabi service.

The carrier is offering promotional fares and packages on both these three-flights-per-week routes throughout March. Tickets must be bought before the end of February.
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